Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Indian flights will have WiFi soon — leaving only North Korea behind

Airlines flying through the Indian airspace will now be able to offer their passengers Wi-Fi connectivity in the air thanks to India's new “in-flight and maritime connectivity” (IFMC) license. Just not immediately.

India's state run telecom operator, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) procured the license from Inmarsat, a British telecommunications satellite company that offers global mobile services.

BSNL first indicated that flight passengers will be able to use internet on flights within the year in July 2017 after gaining the requisite approvals from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). In May, last year, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said that in-flight Wi-Fi would be live within the next 3 to 4 months.
Even now, despite attaining the license, the actual implementation of the technology will take a few more months.
Aside from India, North Korea is the only country to not allow in-flight connectivity so far which the Indian government maintains was due to national security reasons.
Once the service is available, it's unlikely to be cheap. TRAI also indicated that it would be the airlines that would set the prices for in-flight connectivity.
Meanwhile, since India didn't have a license, companies like Airtel found workarounds. For instance, it founded the 'Seamless Alliance' during the Mobile World Congress (MWC 2018) along with OneWeb, Airbus, Delta and Sprint to give flight passengers access to the internet.
03/04/19 Prabhjote Gill/Business Insider